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  • Retail predictions for 2019 from Leonard Design Architects

    Leonard Design Architects has released annual predictions for the retail sector in 2019.
    An interesting trend is the debate about the emergence of garden centres. That’s happening through the rising popularity of gardening, house plants and well-being.
    John Morgan is director at Leonard Design Architects, an award-winning global architectural practice.
    Here he sets out five key trends for 2019 – this is the year to let creativity win the day and is time to stop worrying:

    Rise of the garden centre experience

    This is one we’re starting to see come through at the moment and is off the wall, as John explains:
    “We’re dubbing this the rise of the rural economy. There are examples of garden centres thriving all over the world but how are they doing this? They not only provide a place for people to visit, rest and browse but have an ability to change with the seasons. The mix of farm shops, wine and gastro food with well-being at the centre, is making them the perfect pitch point for families.
    “The garden centre concept could become of significant interest to retail in 2019 all over the world.
    “We’ve seen this in the grounds of Alexandria in Sydney, Australia and closer to home in the UK, the Harley Gallery in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire.”

    Use of space and creating a mix of uses

    “Shopping centres are trading in a tough climate and the high street reported to be struggling. This will mean further investment in mixed-used retail developments in 2019.
    “Retailers and developers need to work hard, invest in their venues and provide shoppers with a reason to shop.
    This is what we’re seeing with Nike’s flagship store in New York which combines digital and traditional shopping. Customers are able to customise their trainers using the app and scan QR codes on clothing in store to check sizes and send them to the fitting rooms.
    “The easy way out for retailers is to sit back and blame the rise in e-commerce for the high street’s downfall.
    Those that have reported losses or gone into administration often have failed to move with the times or invested in solutions.
    The likes of Next, Selfridges and John Lewis all reported growth in their Christmas sales for 2018, when the high street is ‘failing’.
    “There is a simple approach for owners of high street stores. Start to think ‘I own a space or a building in a great location, what can I do with it to bring it back to life?’
    “If it isn’t working, start again. Mentally, remove everything from your existing building and strip it back to the concrete frame. Stop thinking about the restrictions of the building you’re in and look at the opportunities.”

    Shops are closing in town centres – turn them into housing

    This next trend follows along the same theme of space. The UK is facing an acute housing shortage. An increasing number of shops are closing on the high street. Two worrying trends for local authorities.
    John, said: “On many local neighbourhood high streets, a lot of the high street stores were once houses. What we’re seeing with this trend is them converted back to their original use.
    “It’s a win-win for everyone. Increasing the population in town centres where there is demand to live will help to bring a buzz back to high streets.
    The High Street Report outlines that town centres need to become community hubs with retail and hospitality at the centre. Residential is a key player in the future of the high street.”
    Public realm at the heart of city centre regeneration
    “More and more, we’re seeing developers take a public realm first approach before they embark on city centre developments.
    Retailers can only enjoy this as the movement of people and transport is vital to the success of businesses.

    The year of personalisation

    We’re predicting that it won’t be the year of people buying mass-produced products – John says.
    He added: “I’ve recently heard Holly Tucker MBE (owner of Not on the High Street) speak about the importance of personalisation and bespoke products.
    The simple reason being is that these items are unique – they already have sentimental value before they’ve come off the shelf.
    “Your customer also needs to see they’re in good hands. If customer care is poor, they will go elsewhere.
    There is a lot of competition in the retail sector and those who fail to put customer service top of the list will fail.”
    For further information visit or follow @leonard_design on Twitter.

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